Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

What’s new in SCVMM 2012 - (“Cloudy April” - Part 27)

What’s new in SCVMM 2012 - (“Cloudy April” - Part 27)

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SCVMM 2012System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008 R2 is a powerful virtualization management tool.  It does a great job of organizing and managing your virtualization hosts, clusters, virtual machines, and libraries of resources (virtual hard disks, saved machines, machine templates, profiles for hardware and operating systems, etc.)  And it does this for the management of virtualization from either Microsoft or VMware.  But there are some really important aspects of virtualization – particularly when we start considering the delivery of IT-as-a-Service, that SCVMM 2008 R2 doesn’t manage.

Here are just a few examples of what I’m really looking forward to in SCVMM 2012, and what I think you’ll be excited about, too.

First – I think you’re going to appreciate being able to manage many more resources as important aspects of your virtualization platform.  Defining and then using things such as load balancers and storage devices in how you model virtualized services (not just servers) is a great benefit.  Defining logical networks, IP pools, MAC address pools, VIP pools for load balancers; these all become easy then to add to virtual machines and machine templates that are used when building your “service templates”

Which brings me to another new feature that I am very excited about: Service Templates.  You will now not only be defining templates for machines and the operating systems that run on them, but you’ll have the ability to create the definition of a service that is potentially made up of multiple machines, network objects (logical networks, load balancers, storage devices), and the relationships that they have.  For example – say you are defining a 3-tiered application, with a web front-end, middle application/logic tier, and a database cluster on the back end.  And perhaps you need to support high availability and performance that scales through load balancing your machines at the front end or middle tier.  And you may even want to define a range of machine instances for those tiers; maybe saying that I need to start with 2 web frontend servers, but I may be scaling up to as many as ten at some later time.  You can define all of this as a Service Template.  And once you’re ready then to deploy, SCVMM does intelligent placement of the new VMs based on their needs for resources (as defined in their templates) as well as the needs of the service as a whole.  Pretty amazing.. and that’s just scratching the surface.  You’ll also be able to update the machines in a service by updating the template and then replacing the old with the new template, and finally updating the machines in an automated way.

SCVMM is your private cloud fog machineAnd finally (though not really finally, because there are so many more new and exciting features that I don’t have time to describe them all here) is the Fabric Management.  The “fabric” (a term used to define the parts that make up a “cloud”, which is also a level of abstraction supported in SCVMM 2012) can be defined and configured.  Even beyond my first point of managing resources such as storage and networks, SCVMM 2012 extends capabilities for automating the creation of new virtualization hosts – even from bare metal.  It talks to the hardware controller on the motherboard and is able to boot and then deploy Hyper-V Server to new physical servers; ultimately adding them into your infrastructure as new virtualization hosts.  You can also perform automated updates of your virtualization hosts using WSUS

“What do you mean, ‘automated’?”

Here’s an example: Let’s say you have a cluster of virtualization hosts running several highly available (HA) virtual machines; meaning that they have the ability to migrate between hosts using Live Migration (or even vMotion.. we don’t play favorites here).  But now it’s time to install updates to your hosts.  SCVMM automates the process for you by performing the updates in a way that moves around your VMs for you.. installing updates, restarting hosts, and eventually re-balancing (yes.. VMware DRS-style load re-balancing) your VM workloads between and among the hosts.  And doing this all with absolutely zero-downtime of your virtual machines and the services they are providing.

If you were at MMS this year, you probably saw this slide several times.  It’s one that we’re using in our talks on SCVMM 2012 to introduce the main improvements in SCVMM 2012.

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And from the Beta download page, here is the overview and quick list of new features:

Overview

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 delivers industry leading fabric managment, virtual machine management and services deployment in private cloud environments. Virtual Machine Manager 2012 offers key new features that include hypervisor creation and management, network management, storage management, private cloud creation, self-service usage and service creation. It features deep investments in server application virtualization, service design and service modeling all of which can be used to efficiently offer an on-premises private cloud.

Feature Summary

  • Fabric Management
    • Hyper-V and Cluster Lifecycle Management – Deploy Hyper-V to bare metal server, create Hyper-V clusters, orchestrate patching of a Hyper-V Cluster
    • Third Party Virtualization Platforms - Add and Manage Citrix XenServer and VMware ESX Hosts and Clusters
    • Network Management – Manage IP Address Pools, MAC Address Pools and Load Balancers
    • Storage Management – Classify storage, Manage Storage Pools and LUNs
  • Resource Optimization
    • Dynamic Optimization – proactively balance the load of VMs across a cluster
    • Power Optimization – schedule power savings to use the right number of hosts to run your workloads – power the rest off until they are needed
    • PRO – integrate with System Center Operations Manager to respond to application-level performance monitors
  • Cloud Management
    • Abstract server, network and storage resources into private clouds
    • Delegate access to private clouds with control of capacity, capabilities and user quotas
    • Enable self-service usage for application administrator to author, deploy, manage and decommission applications in the private cloud
  • Service Lifecycle Management
    • Define service templates to create sets of connected virtual machines, OS images and application packages
    • Compose operating system images and applications during service deployment
    • Scale out the number of virtual machines in a service
    • Service performance and health monitoring integrated with System Center Operations Manager
    • Decouple OS image and application updates through image-based servicing
    • Leverage powerful application virtualization technologies such as Server App-V

So as you can see, there is a lot to be excited about coming in SCVMM 2012.  Helping you deliver IT-as-a-Service is really what it’s all about.  Your “private cloud” just got a whole lot more cloudy.  And that’s a good thing.

Here are some more resources for you:

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Are you as excited about SCVMM 2012 as I am?  Have you tried the beta yet?  What do you think?  Add your comments and lets discuss it!

In Part 28 (tomorrow) I’m going to introduce you to the current state of self-service for your private clouds.

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